"Do I have postpartum depression?"

“I didn’t expect that this would be so difficult.”

Our society fosters the myths of Motherhood that influence your expectations of having a baby, and how easily it should be to transition into being a Mom. You believe you will welcome your baby with feelings of happiness, joy and bliss.

Having a baby is joyous event. Yet what if you are sad, completely exhausted, irritable and anxious? Or experiencing panic attacks? Perhaps you are worrying constantly, feeling a sense of dread and not wanting to get out of bed in the morning. You might be having uncomfortable thoughts that you cannot get out of your mind.

At a time when you believe you should be overjoyed and elated, you now feel guilty and ashamed as if you are a failure for not being the perfect Mom.

You are not a failure and you are not to blame.

These emotions and others could be an indication that you are experiencing some form of postpartum mood disorder. 15% to 20% of women will have more significant symptoms of depression and anxiety either during the pregnancy or up to one year after the baby is born.

You are not alone.

Postpartum Mood Disorders are very common.

Postpartum Depression and other mood disorders are not your fault.

They are medical conditions that are very treatable.

Please know that with early healthcare intervention and support you can fully recover and feel like yourself again.

 

"How do I know if what I am experiencing is just the “baby blues?"

It is very common for 50% to 80% of women to experience maternity or postpartum blues. You may be tearful and find you are more emotional than is typical for you.  Or you may be sad, anxious and afraid. Most new Moms will experience these symptoms in a mild form and the blues will go away within 2 weeks.

In contrast to postpartum blues, postpartum depression, anxiety and other mood disorders are marked by more intense feelings of anxiety, sadness and despair that last longer than 2 weeks. These symptoms may interfere with your energy level and your ability to enjoy this time with your baby as you had hoped for.

"What exactly are the postpartum conditions that can occur?"

As was mentioned, many women will experience significant symptoms of depression that may be accompanied with feeling anxious. Alternately, anxiety and intrusive repetitive thoughts, a feeling of panic can occur without depression.  If there had been a difficult labor or birth or other trauma, women can experience a posttraumatic stress reaction.

And some women might experience symptoms of a bipolar depression, which is characterized by alternating periods of depression and periods of high energy, anxiety, decreased need for sleep (mania).

The least common condition is a postpartum psychosis occurring only in 1 or 2 per thousand births. The onset is typically 3-14 days after having the baby. This condition is temporary and very treatable but is emergent and requires immediate treatment.

The following websites also offer information and support to women and their families.

  • Postpartum Support International (PSI) www.postpartum.net

  • http://mededppd.org is a website developed with the support of the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) to provide education about postpartum depression

Postpartum depression treatment  - Denver, Co 

How Therapy Can Be Helpful

It can be confusing for you and your family to determine if what you are experiencing is postpartum blues, postpartum depression or anxiety.

Speaking with a counselor who understands perinatal mood disorders will help you get back on the right track.

Typically, physicians or a concerned family member will refer new Moms to my practice. My intention is to put you at ease, knowing that by evaluating your symptoms and circumstances we will make sense of what you are going through. Together we will create a treatment plan that will meet your specific needs.

It has been my experience that women and their families feel reassured and hopeful after having a name for what they are going through and clear steps to take towards alleviating their symptoms.

 

Family members and new Moms often have concerns during our initial consultation.

"I’m embarrassed and ashamed that I am feeling this way."

Believe me, I understand that feeling depressed or anxious is not what you expected when planning on having a baby.  You did not bring this upon yourself and you are not to blame. Postpartum mood disorders do not discriminate.

Please try not to let these concerns interfere with seeking assistance and treatment. Taking that first step is often the most difficult. You will have a profound sense of relief as you gain a clearer understanding of your situation and clear path for resolving you symptoms.

"Joan, do you see other women with postpartum depression?"

Treating women, couples and their families during pregnancy and postpartum has always been an integral part of my psychotherapy practice.

Choosing a therapist that you are comfortable with is a key ingredient for successful therapy. When facing challenges during pregnancy and postpartum, it is essential to know that your therapist is trained and knowledgeable about perinatal mood disorders and treatment.

In addition to counseling individuals, couples and families, I have provided consultation and education to physician office practices pertaining to the psychology of pregnancy and postpartum mood disorders. Additionally, I have developed preventive intervention programs for postpartum services in area hospitals.

From 1998-2012, I served as the State Coordinator for Postpartum Support International

What are the next steps? 

Please feel free to contact me at 303.759.9171 for a free telephone consultation. I am happy to answer any questions that you may have that will help you to feel comfortable moving forward.

We can decide in that conversation if you would like to set up an appointment. I look forward to hearing from you.